A commentary by Susan Hamblen, Broker/Owner, EXIT Realty Achieve, NY

Ladders come in all shapes and sizes. Last week a box truck arrived in our parking lot at EXIT Realty Achieve. The kind, young, driver threw open the door and unloaded 26 of them. 26 ladders. Some short, some tall, some medium. But nevertheless all ladders and all, surprisingly, labeled with the word “EPIC”on the side.

It all started with a thought I was sharing at an offsite meeting… a few words I spoke while our team was at the Ropes Course for a team building event.  As the team ziplined through the trees, and transitioned large expanses over ropes, they also climbed ladders. It was abundantly clear, they went higher when someone cheered them on and when someone held their ladder. As the team gathered in the picnic area for lunch, I was able to share my thoughts.  “We feel more courageous when people encourage us. We climb to new heights when we know people are there to support us. We go higher when someone holds our ladder.  We are here to hold your ladder!  And we need and expect you to hold the ladder of your team mates.”

In the days and weeks that followed, I saw and heard it again and again. “Thanks for holding my ladder.” “Don’t worry, I have your ladder.” It was a joy for me to see the team verbalize this and really live it with one another.  It was written in bold on an office whiteboard and little mini ladders (like dollhouse ladders) showed up around our workplace.

It was a bright morning at 9:00am a few weeks later. Our team development manager, Jeff Mistretta, asked me to step out front. Why the silly smile on his face? I heard the “beep” as the box truck backed into the space outside the door.  I watched as the door opened  and all I could see were ladders. Laughter. What a surprise! The ladders were placed around the parking lot and on the front walkway.  So many ladders!

The team of agents began to trickle in. They smiled. Perhaps, some rolled their eyes in disbelief. They laughed as they had to navigate parking around the ladders now littering the place. They immediately understood. We are ladder holders. They climbed. They took pictures and videos. They smiled knowingly. As they climbed the ladders, they asked staff and team members to hold their ladders and they properly thanked one another for giving them the support they needed. It was a great reminder of the message and the spirit of our team. It is, after all, an EPIC team.

A few ladders still linger in the front lot. The majority have been moved around back. I asked Jeff, “What are we doing with all these ladders now?” The blank stare caused me to burst into laughter.  We hold ladders.  We’re not sure where we store them.


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